Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked Review - A Gamer's Best Friend?
We already covered Amazon's game discount options, now let's get to the more popular one: Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked, or GCU for short. How does it stack up, and does it deserve the fame it has?
GCU is a program started by Best Buy a few years ago. I've personally had it for about three years. The program costs $30 for two years of membership. The "Unlocked" part of it references the paid program, as Best Buy does have a free option. There are several benefits to both, and if you shop at Best Buy for gaming items, you should have at least the free one. Here are the benefits offered for both:
This is a pretty comprehensive list, and you get lots of benefits, especially compared to other retailer programs, even Amazon. There are some that you will use more than others. I don't know why they don't show what the welcome coupons are, but to my knowledge, it is still a "Buy 2 get 1 free" on pre-owned games. Please hit me up if this has changed. The main benefit is the first one listed: 20% Off New Video Game Software. This includes any games that are sold as new and not pre-owned. This is the cornerstone of the program, and this, combined with Amazon Prime, are why I NEVER pay full retail for any game, except with vendor exclusive collector's editions. It's how I got the Fire Emblem Echoes Limited Edition for $48(quick unboxing here).
The main thing here is that it isn't timed. You don't have to buy the game within two weeks of release like with Amazon Prime. Besides "Black Friday" sales, this discount ALWAYS applies. If you wait for a while after a game releases and it goes on sale on Best Buy's weekly ad for $40 down from $60 for instance, you would get 20% off the sale price, so you would pay $32 for it, plus tax of course. This is huge, and it definitely adds up over time. I can't imagine paying $60 for a retail release anymore. It seems insane to me. This discount stacks on top of pre-order bonuses as well. Best Buy usually has a list of games that they will award a $10 certificate if you pre-order. They assign it to your account a few weeks after purchase. This would bring down your net price of a new $60 retail release to $38 when you count the certificate. That is the lowest you will get a game on release day(except for PC keys probably). This is usually for major mainstream releases, like Call of Duty and Madden, but they did it for Overwatch last year. The current list is here. They just added Super Mario Odyssey! You bet I will pre-order that, and by the way, you qualify even if you pre-order a day before release. I've done that before, and I recommend if you do pre-order anything, do it as late as you can. Your money should stay in your wallet as long as possible.
Not looking at the other benefits, and just focusing on the 20% discount on new games, it would take $150 worth of purchases over two years to break even,or $75 a year. If you play on current generation consoles, I'm sure you spend way more than that on new games per year. Even if that was the only benefit, I think GCU is well worth the price of admission. The 20% applies to Amiibos too by the way. I always try to get my Amiibos from Best Buy, I've gotten every Amiibo except one from Best Buy, I don't want to pay retail for those either. You SHOULDN'T want to pay retail for anything ever. What's the negative then? Please look at the following slide:
Shipping. If you don't have a Best Buy store close by, you have to get things shipped to you. Most games have free shipping, even with the lowest level of My Best Buy rewards, which you are enrolled in when you sign up for GCU. Really good deals, and 3DS games may fall under the $35 total, and that can kill the deal. This is the only time I can see GCU not being an easy recommendation. Otherwise, the money savings will easily pay for the membership and then some. In case you can't tell already, I FULLY recommend GCU, it has saved me so much money over the years, I would seriously have to re-budget if it didn't exist. I buy a lot of games :)
Not to bore you, but let me go over the points system for a bit. This is how much I think about my purchases, and a reason why I save as much as I do. Best Buy considers 250 points to be worth $5. GCU doubles the amount of points you get for game purchases, consoles excluded. At the lowest level, you get 1 point per $1 spent, or a 2% return. These are pennies, I know, but again, pennies add up. If you get all the way to eliteplus, you get 2.5 points per $1 spent, or a 5% return! Elite gives 2 points, or a 4% return. I am currently eliteplus, so if you consider a 5% return on my game purchase, I pay $48 for a $60 game, and get 5% in points on the $48, or $2.40, which makes the effective price $45.60 not including tax. Yes, it's more pennies, but eventually...Also, this doesn't count potential extra money you can get from affiliate site links, or debit/credit card bonuses! More money for you! Because nothing gets you more excited! It's your money! Protect it! I will go more into detail on these later on. It hurts my soul when I see someone I know pay $60 for a game. Stop it! Your money has the most value in YOUR hands.